June 4, 2013 – salesforce.com announced a big investment in the cloud marketing space with a $2.5 billion proposal for vendor ExactTarget.

ExactTarget provides digital marketing cloud solutions, particularly across email and social media campaigns. In a release on the proposed deal, salesforce.com stated it would combine ExactTarget offerings and capabilities with those already in-house, especially from previous acquisitions of Radian6, Buddy Media and Social.com.

salesforce.com cited Gartner figures that put marketing as the fastest growing CRM category last year, and the SaaS CRM vendor CEO Marc Benioff said his intent with the deal is to make salesforce.com “the starting place” for these burgeoning CMO tech expenditures.

Founded in 2000, ExactTarget is based in Indianapolis with approximately 6,000 customers as varied as Levi’s, Raymond James, Coca Cola and the Harlem Globetrotters. In Q1 2013, ExactTarget reported 39 percent year-over-year growth to $88.9 million in revenue.

Marketing interests across industries have led in implementations on emerging enterprise tech such as cloud computing and big data, according to Ventana’s Mark A. Smith. Niche SaaS and cloud acquisitions were expected to be a large part of the M&A equation this year, according to an outlook from experts at Berkery Noyes.

The deal, which involves the sale of all outstanding shares of ExactTarget at $33.75 a piece, was unanimously approved by the boards of directors at both vendors and is expected by salesforce.com to close by the end of July.

It was the second big cloud deal announced Tuesday, as IBM proposed a buyout of cloud infrastructure vendor SoftLayer.

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